Extinction Rebellion protesters descend on Parliament Square

By Davina Hyde

Thousands of protesters descended on Parliament Square last week calling on the government to take radical action to address the climate emergency

In a series of demonstrations across the country, more than 600 Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters were arrested in London, with 77 charged by police for blocking access to printing presses, preventing the delivery of newspapers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet: “It is completely unacceptable to seek to limit the public’s access to news in this way.”

Activists blocked Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s route to Parliament on Tuesday by lying on roads around Parliament Square.

Christian Climate activists joined up with other faiths including XR Jews, XR Buddhists and XR Muslims to make a Faith Bridge.

Christian Climate protester Tim Dendy, 51, from the Patmore Estate in Battersea, said: “You had people going up trees, you had people holding banners, you had people serving food.”

Secular XR campaigner Yves Hayaux du Tilly, 48, from Kew Gardens, said: “We had a lovely week Everyone participating in this September rebellion to preserve life on Earth, by changing our present to have a future.”

Grandparents and Elders campaigner Dr Anthony Hearward, 64, said: “As an elder and father, I am committed to do my utmost to ensure the best of futures for those I love.”

More than 200 arrests were made on Thursday when Lambeth Bridge was blocked by protesters.

On Saturday, the “Lightship Greta”, a 20ft boat pushed from Brighton, was seized by police in Kennington.

Rev Dr Dave Bookless, director of theology for A Rocha International, speaking in a personal capacity, said: “The same powers that the government has given to the police to stop mass raves and gatherings of that sort are being used to deny the right to legitimate protests by Extinction Rebellion and Christian Climate Action groups.

“The devastation caused by climate change is going to far outweigh any of the economic and social harm that Covid-19 has done, many, many times over.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Londoners have made huge sacrifices to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, so I want to be clear that all large gatherings, including protests, are still banned to stop the spread of this deadly virus.

“I share the concerns about the need for urgent action to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies and I’m doing everything in my power to cut emissions in London, including setting a net zero target of 2030 and introducing one of the largest low traffic areas in the world.”

Pictured top: Protesters at the weekend

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